Reality is nothing but a collective hunch

So said comedian/actress Lily Tomlin (who also played Deborah Fiderer in the absolutely important, crucial and seminal series West Wing). It pretty much sums up what a lot of people think these days. THE big question behind everyone’s questions seems to be how do we know what we know? We’ve lost confidence in even the concept of truth as a gateway into understanding reality. So we group together in our little cliques (whether religious, political, anarchic or whatever) and bolster one another with mutual reassurances. Perhaps it was the acknowledgment of this that was one of the things that made Neo in THE MATRIX uneasy and search for something beyond the immediate.

Of course in the film that came in the form of Morpheus. Through Morpheus, Neo was exposed to the real reality (which was pretty grim, let’s face it – no wonder the character Cypher wanted a ‘nice’ life back within the matrix). The life that had always made Neo feel suspicious and wary was exposed as a virtual, computer-constructed reality.

BUT… what if we ourselves are also stuck in some sort of shared reality construct? Surely what we need is also for someone to come in from the outside to be able to tell us what’s what from an uncontaminated perspective. Funny then that this is precisely what Christmas is claimed to be about – a breaking in from the outside – with a truly true and real perspective on reality. It is perhaps hard to stomach at first (and some do a ‘Cypher’ and recoil from it) but it is a perspective which offers real hope and optimism, while turning everything we thought was important or valued upside down (hence birth in cowshed, questionable legitimacy, impoverished family, inauspicious beginnings or career path, to name but a few of Jesus’ somewhat unconventional characteristics). What’s more, some of the old obsessions with truth and intellectual understanding are somewhat undermined when it is seen that Truth (with a capital T) is not a concept or even a construct – BUT A PERSON (rememberJohn 14:6). Something to think about this Christmas perhaps.

But maybe i’m taking Lily a bit too seriously. She did also say this once, so i guess her remarks could be just dismissed as cynicism out to get a laugh. I think she’s probably got a point with this one, though…

I personally think we developed language because of our deep need to complain.

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  1. Melinda Hendry

    I came across a quote on reality a while back which I think is pretty good: ‘Reality is that which, when you don’t believe it, doesn’t go away.’ There’s a lot of wisdom in that. There are all sorts of things that we believe are real or true, and all sorts of other things that we believe aren’t. Yet in the end we aren’t the determiners of reality – there are things that simply won’t go away, no matter what we believe about them. It is indeed good news that ‘The Determiner’ steps into our dark world and shines the light on what really is. And even better news is that what really ‘is’ is better than anything we could have ever imagined.

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